One of my favorite things as an upcoming debut is meeting other debuting authors. Elizabeth Chatsworth is the author of the new steampunk novel, The Brass Queen. Here’s a look into what it took her to write the story and her path to publication. Be sure to read through to the end to score a FREE steampunk novelette from Elizabeth!
What inspired The Brass Queen?
A minor character in H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man inspired my plot. In Wells’s 1897 novel, a mysterious American tourist in an English pub whips out a revolver and shoots the invisible man in the knee. Upon reading this, I wondered – who is this curious interloper with the less-than-deadly aim? Thus began the adventures of J. F. Trusdale, an inept spy in a world where nothing is as it seems, starting with Trusdale himself. Such a man requires an exceptionally talented partner – enter Miss Constance Haltwhistle – weapons designer and amateur scientist.
What was your process for writing The Brass Queen?
I’d always been an avid reader, but I didn’t know how to get started writing my own fiction. So, I enrolled in an online creative writing class that was being offered by famed sci-fi and fantasy author, David Farland. One of my first assignments was a worldbuilding exercise. I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become the first chapter of The Brass Queen as my assignment. David enjoyed my disastrous steampunk ball so much, he suggested that I turn that scene into a novel.
For the next year, I wrote approximately eight to twelve pages a week. That’s a slow pace, but as a beginner, I made the error of trying to perfect every sentence as I went along. In retrospect, I should have saved my editing until after I had completed the first draft. But, I didn’t know that at the time! As I wrote my novel, I studied other writer’s works and learned as much as I could about the publishing industry. The initial draft of the book was revised several times over the next couple of years, but the basic story didn’t change too much from that first worldbuilding assignment.
What was the path for publishing The Brass Queen?
I entered my completed manuscript into the Pitch Wars contest. I was lucky enough to win a spot with two mentors who helped me to shape the novel into a publishable format. After three months of revising, my novel was presented in the Agent Showcase. This is where you “pitch” your novel to a selection of literary agents. Here is my original pitch.
I was delighted to receive ten agent requests, and I sent off my full manuscript with high hopes. I also emailed my query letter to various other agents. Four months later, I signed with Natale Grazian, who has since left the industry. While we were together, we came close to signing with many publishers. It was a rollercoaster, and I was thrilled to eventually receive several offers. In the end, I signed with CamCat Books. It’s taken just over a year to publish my book with CamCat. The pandemic impacted my initial launch date, but now, here we are, about to launch on January 12th, 2021. It’s taken six years since I wrote the first draft of the first page to get to this point!
I know you are a voice actor. What has it been like narrating your own book?
It’s been astonishingly difficult. The pandemic closed all professional studios in New York and Connecticut. We’ve had to invent new ways to record the sessions with safety as our number one concern. Over the last ten years as a voice actor, I’ve specialized in performing corporate scripts. These tend to be quite short, so narrating a four-hundred-page book is a completely different experience. It’s physically and mentally exhausting to perform an audiobook, and my hat is off to those actors who do this on a regular basis.
I heard your dog inspired a character in The Brass Queen. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Well, it was actually the other way around! I wrote the character of Boudicca, Constance’s fierce Yorkshire terrier puppy, several years before adopting my own Yorkie, Boo. Boo’s full AKC name is “Boudicca of Haltwhistle Hall,” in homage to Constance’s puppy. The original Boo in the book can be a bit of a terror. My real-life Boo is super sweet and cuddly, unless you’re a squirrel. Squirrels are public enemy number one to Boo!
Where can people find The Brass Queen and what pre-order swag can they get?
The Brass Queen will be available in all good bookstores and libraries on January 12th, 2021. For pre-order swag, please visit at https://elizabethchatsworth.com/goodies/. You’ll receive three gifts: a signed and personalized bookplate; an exclusive, numbered, brass collector's pin in a gift bag; and, a 5" x 7" print of the cover artwork while supplies last! You’ll also be entered to win one of two Grand Prizes, which include a signed hardcopy of the book, an emerald tiara, and a letterpress invitation to Miss Constance Haltwhistle's coming-out ball!
Can you tell us anything about what you are working on now?
The Brass Queen is the first book in the series. I anticipate that the second book will be published in late 2021. In the second volume, our motley gang of heroes will face an interdimensional alien invasion!
What’s a piece of advice you’d give to aspiring authors?
My main advice is to try and enjoy the creative journey each and every day. I joined writing groups, entered contests, and tried to enjoy the writing process itself rather than focusing on whether I would ever be published. If publication had been my only goal, I’m not sure I would have had the stamina to keep going through the years. By enjoying the creative process, I’ve spent time with my characters in worlds no one else could create, and ultimately, it’s been a fun adventure! I hope you have the same experience.
Where’s the best place to follow you?
I’m on quite a few social media sites, and I also have a newsletter you can subscribe to for exclusive updates and giveaways.
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